John McCain’s War Cabinet

“There’s going to be other wars. I’m sorry to tell you, there’s going to be other wars. We will never surrender, but there will be other wars.”

— John McCain, 1/27/08 (video)

John McCain’s foreign policy offers a future of numerous U.S. military interventions in the name of “promoting American values.” He has assembled a team of foreign policy advisers who believe strongly, as he does, that American security requires the robust and relentless exercise of American military power. Here’s a look at those key advisers:


Director of Foreign Policy and National Security

BACKGROUND: Former Congressional aide to Trent Lott and Bob Dole. Co-founder, president and executive director of the Committee For the Liberation of Iraq. Drafter of the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act. Project director at the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). In 1998, founded a firm which lobbied on behalf of the NRA, and later the governments of Georgia and other former Soviet Bloc states benefiting from the invasion of Iraq. Claims to have authored McCain’s concept of “rogue state rollback.” Known as “McCain’s bulldog” for his attacks on McCain’s detractors.


“[John McCain] does not believe in timetables or deadlines, secret or otherwise.” [New York Observer, 4/11/07]


Foreign Policy Adviser

BACKGROUND: A former Wall Street Journal editor and current senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Boot advocates an imperial role for the United States similar to the British Empire. Believes that the United States needs a “colonial office” inspired by the British system in India in order to better fulfill its role of transforming the world. Advocate of a sort of foreign legion wherein immigrants and other non-citizens would receive citizenship in exchange for U.S. military service.


“What can [Democrats] say when the situation in Iraq appears to be looking up?” [Los Angeles Times, 12/16/03]

“Iraq already has confounded many Western ‘progressives’ who doubted that the Arab world could ever make progress. The bus may be rickety and it may have lost some passengers, but — guess what? — it’s on schedule toward its final destination: democracy.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/4/04]


Energy and National Security Adviser

BACKGROUND: Former head of the CIA. Subscribes to the “World War IV” formulation (in which the Cold War was World War III) and believes that the United States has been “at war” with Islamists since 1979, when “they [Iranian revolutionaries] seized our hostages in 1979 in Tehran.” Suggested during an interview on September 12, 2001, that Iraq had sponsored the 9/11 attacks, and also attempted to exhume the discredited idea that Iraq was behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.


“I would submit to you that genetically modified work is going on in Iraq right now. It’s clear that we know that. And I think people who argue for delay, need to take responsibility for the consequences of the delay they’re alleging.” [ABC’s Nightline, 3/4/03]

“I think we ought to execute some air strikes against Syria, against the instruments of power of that state, against the airport, which is the place where the weapons shuttle through from Iran to Hezbollah and Hamas. I think both Syria and Iran think that we’re cowards.” [Fox News’ Big Story with John Gibson, 7/17/06]


Informal Foreign Policy Adviser

BACKGROUND: Prominent neo-conservative pundit. Founder and editor of the Weekly Standard. Co-founder and chairman of PNAC, current New York Times columnist. Advocates stronger American leadership through the unilateral use of force; co-author with Robert Kagan of essay “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy” which advocated “benevolent” American global hegemony based upon military dominance and “elevated patriotism.” Co-author of a book strenuously arguing for the invasion of Iraq. Strong supporter of the surge. Advocates war with Iran. Known to be “exceptionally close with McCain.”


The [Iraq] war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. […] History and reality are about to weigh in, and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts.” [The Weekly Standard 3/17/03]

“There’s been a certain amount of pop sociology in America … that the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.” [NPR, 4/1/03]

“We’re not in a civil war [in Iraq]. This is just not true….” [Fox News, 7/15/07]


Informal Foreign Policy Adviser

BACKGROUND: After serving as an adviser to Congressman Jack Kemp in 1983, and then working as a speechwriter for Secretary of State George Schultz, in 1985 Kagan was chosen by Elliot Abrams to head the Office of Public Diplomacy, whose mission was to create support for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels. Kagan was a co-founder of PNAC, and is currently a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Co-author with Bill Kristol of “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy” in which he advocated “benevolent” American global hegemony based upon military dominance and “elevated patriotism.” Advocate of a “concert of democracies” to supplant the UN Security Council in order to grant legitimacy to U.S. military interventions around the globe. Recently recognized the need to talk with Iran, if only to establish a record to use against Tehran.


“American power, even deployed under a double standard, may be the best means of advancing progress.” [BBC Documentary, 2003]


Senior Adviser

BACKGROUND: McCain’s former Chief of Staff, and co-writer of McCain’s books. Salter worked for Jeanne Kirkpatrick when she was United Nations ambassador and later when she moved to the American Enterprise Institute. He joined McCain’s staff in 1989, and is “widely regarded as the senator’s alter ego.” In 2006, responded to a college student’s criticism of McCain by saying that it was “very unlikely” that any of the 2006 graduates of New York’s New School University would “ever possess one small fraction of the character of John McCain.”


boltonInformal Foreign Policy Adviser

BACKGROUND: Former U.S. diplomat, Senior Vice President for Public Policy Research at the American Enterprise Institute, and member of the Project for the New American Century, Bolton was one of the signers of the January 1998 PNAC letter sent to President Bill Clinton urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power. In 2005, Bolton was nominated by President Bush to be the U.S.’s representative to the UN, but his nomination met with strong Democratic opposition over Bolton’s controversial anti-UN statements and policies. Bolton was eventually given a recess appointment to the UN. He served from 2005 to 2006, and resigned at the end of one term. At a conservative conference in 2008, Bolton described how “McCain secretly tried to shepherd his nomination to the United Nations.” Bolton currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.


“[John McCain] thought I was the type of ambassador that ought to represent the United States at the United Nations.” [Huffington Post, 2/8/08],

“While treaties may well be politically or even morally binding, they are not legally obligatory.” [Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 1999]

And many more


Foreign Policy Adviser

BACKGROUND: AEI Fellow and PNAC signatory. Co-author with Abram Shulsky (overseer of the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans) of a book on the political though of Leo Strauss as applied to intelligence gathering. Subscribes to the Straussian view that “deception is the norm in political life, and the hope, to say nothing of the expectation, of establishing a politics that can dispense with it is the exception.” Advocated war against “the Saddam/bin Laden axis” as a way to “restore national honor.”


“In short, Iraq is both equipped with dangerous weapons and out to get the United States…The potential costs of leaving Saddam and his regime in place are simply too high.” [The Weekly Standard, 10/29/01]


Informal National Security Adviser

BACKGROUND: Retired U.S. Lieutenant Colonel, novelist and op-ed writer. Called Muqtada al-Sadr “our mortal enemy” in 2006, but now supports a surge which is built on accommodating Sadr and ratifying his militia’s control of formerly Sunni neighborhoods. Suggested “redrawing the Middle East map” in order to better serve American security interests, claiming that “without such major boundary revisions, we shall never see a more peaceful Middle East.”


“If we can’t leave a democracy behind, we should at least leave the corpses of our enemies. The holier-than-thou response to this proposal is predictable: ‘We can’t kill our way out of this situation!’ Well, boo-hoo. Friendly persuasion and billions of dollars haven’t done the job. Give therapeutic violence a chance.” [New York Post, 10/26/06]

“Iraq could have turned out differently. It didn’t. And we must be honest about it. We owe that much to our troops. They don’t face the mere forfeiture of a few congressional seats but the loss of their lives. Our military is now being employed for political purposes. It’s unworthy of our nation.” [USA Today, 11/2/06]


Supporter and Adviser

BACKGROUND: One of Congress’s strongest Iraq war supporters, former Democrat (current Independent) Lieberman has bashed Democrats for proposing timelines for withdrawing troops from Iraq. Like McCain, Lieberman subscribes to George W. Bush’s “global war on terror” view (which McCain calls ” a transcendental struggle“) and also supports expansive executive power for prosecuting that war. Lieberman has also advocated a tax to fund expansion of the military.


“I’m worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don’t appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us..[This threat is] more evil, or as evil, as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet Communists we fought during the long cold war.” [New York Times, 8/11/06]

“[Hillary Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s] positions on Iraq represent a retreat, which would be a surrender on Iraq.” [The Advocate, 3/16/08]


mckivergan2.JPGCampaign Staffer

BACKGROUND: McKivergan is a former research director for the Weekly Standard. He joined McCain’s staff as legislative director in 2000, and in 2002 he became deputy director of the Project for A New American Century, helping to coordinate the push for war in Iraq.